Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Obama Double-Cross

Politicians always betray us. That's because they promise us things that they can't possibly deliver.

It's not really their fault. We insist that they promise us impossible stuff. What's a pol to do?

But it seems to me that President Obama has made the double-cross into a principle of government.

The current health bill is the prime evidence of this. President Obama and the White appear to have made all kinds of insider deals with the major health care special interests. They did a deal with Big Pharma, presumably promising to limit price controls on drugs. They did a deal with the insurance companies, promising to force Americans to get health insurance. It return Big Pharma paid for a bunch of ads and the insurance companies didn't bring forward Harry and Louise to worry on national TV about the administration's plan.

Of course they also had a nod-nod-wink-wink deal with liberals on single payer. They would go as far as they could towards single payer using a disguised single payer system they called the public option.

They also had a deal with AARP. They would kill Medicare Advantage so that AARP could sell more Medigap policies.

But they have reneged on their deal with the insurance companies, because Congress lacks the backbone to levy really stiff fines on people who don't sign up for health insurance.

And who knows when they will renege on their deals with the other special interests?

But the administration seems to think that the double-cross is just politics as usual. Maybe that's the way they play it in Chicago.

But there is a wider sense in which the Obama administration has double-crossed the American people.

  • There was the promise to lower taxes on 95 percent of taxpayers
  • There was the promise to heal the partisan divide
  • There was the promise to keep the lobbyists out
  • There was the promise of transparency

Yeah. What happened to all that stuff?

A lot of what Obama promised was a change in tone. President Bush promised a change in tone, too, when he became president. And he spent the early part of his presidency trying to do bipartisan deals--like No Child Left Behind.

President Obama has clearly chosen not to do bipartisan. Particularly on his signature health bill. You just can't do a massive upheaval on health care on a partisan basis and have a shred of a claim to embrace bipartisan government.

President Obama's presidency is turning out to be very different, in tone and in substance, from the presidency he promised. He profoundly misrepresented what an Obama presidency would be all about.

That is probably the main reason his popularity is collapsing.

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